Before starting at Palimpsest, I wasn’t entirely sure what the precise role of the typesetter was in the publishing process. I had read about this branch of publishing, but quite often it is only mentioned in passing, and in relation to the activities of publishing houses rather than in its own right. In this respect, my time at Palimpsest has been illuminating. I have been frankly amazed by the sheer volume of work that can pass through the office in a single day, and the vital position that typesetters like Palimpsest hold in the industry. In spite of this constant activity, everybody I have had contact with has been friendly, approachable and more than happy to help with any questions or problems I have had. I have had no previous experience in an office environment and was impressed that a company can be so productive and yet also retain a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
In my first week in the proofreading department with Steven and the girls I completed several revises and one full read. Though Steven may have thought this would be boring (it wasn’t!) I have genuinely enjoyed putting the skills I have learned at Napier into practice. The feedback I was given was timely and helpful and the exercises I completed really highlighted the importance of quality of output for a company like Palimpsest and the attention to detail that goes into every page.
During this first week I also toured the office, sitting in on operational assistance, customer service, pre-production and production. Though I wasn’t with each department for very long (understandably they were all very busy) each one gave me an insightful outline of the work done in each area and how they all come together as an efficient and cohesive whole. I was also very happy to have time to sit in on the Palimpsest epub operations and find out how this is affecting the way that books are produced and how the company is adjusting to this development.
My second week in the production department was equally as beneficial. I was looking forward to getting in some practical InDesign work and I appreciate the effort the production manager went to in order to fit me into the department during a busy work week and provide me with worthwhile and beneficial exercises. Even having only got through two sets of revises, I have picked up many tips and tricks of the trade on InDesign just by listening to and watching the operators at work. I even got a little Photoshop experience into the bargain!
The variety of activity on the placement has been stimulating and challenging and more industry-relevant than I might have hoped for. Two weeks in the same department may have been a little much, but moving around and sampling each area has given me a far greater understanding of the processes involved in typesetting than I came with.
At no point during my time at Palimpsest have I felt lost, wandering or forgotten about and I think that is the thing most placement students worry about. It is clear to me that the aim of the company in offering this placement is to benefit the student rather than themselves and this is commendable indeed.
Image used with kind permission of Palimpsest Book Production Ltd.